Honouring Black Canadian Women: A Glittering Ceremony Recognizing Accomplished Black Canadians

by Dr. Denise O'Neil Green | September 21, 2016 9:30 AM

(Republished with permission; Some links and text style edits added by The Institutional Diversity Blog)

On Thursday, June 16th, 2016, the anticipated book 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women 2016 Edition was launched at a glittering ceremony gala inside The Brighton Convention & Event Centre in Scarborough, Ontario.

Over 700 guests were in attendance with special guest speaker the Honourable, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Keynote speaker Montreal-born Honourable Madame Justice Micheline Rawlins, who was appointed to the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor in 1992, who also is named among the 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women.

“The book is a depiction of values such as courage, determination, strength and resilience and reminds us of all the things the women share in common. In this book, we see reflected a microcosm of everything we hope for as a society and country,” remarked the Honourable, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, in her opening greeting at the gala and book launch.

100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women Logo

The Glittering Gala

The Gala was a very special evening filled with music, laughter and great conversation.  Guests entered Brighton Hall to the wonderful sounds of Kenn Lewis and his steel pan.  Old friends were reacquainted with each other, as familiar faces were recognized across the crowds followed by warm embraces.

The noise level in the main hall of the Brighton Convention Centre was so boisterous that emcee Itah Sadu raised her majestic voice to gather everyone's attention to begin the evening's festivities.  Lee-Anne Lyon-Bartley sang a wonderful English and French rendition of the national anthem, as well as Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, the Black National Anthem.  The Honourable Dr. Jean Augustine and co-author provided opening remarks acknowledging the 16-months of work it took to put the book together, and how important it was to recognize Black Canadian women now and for future generations.

Guests were then treated to a wonderful welcome and greeting in a video message by Madame Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.  The Thanksgiving Prayer was offered by Mrs. Vilma Blenman before dinner was served.  Throughout the evening guests were entertained by the soothing jazz sounds of The Eddie Bullen Band.

Keynote Remarks

Following dinner, co-author Dr. Denise O’Neil Green made remarks and introduced the Honourable Madame Justice Micheline Rawlins, who gave the keynote address noting the importance of Black women's contributions to Canadian society.

“Black women matter. We are visible; we are role models; we are mentors and we provide tangible proof that society is changing,” stated Honourable Madame Justice Rawlins. “Has it been easy? No.  Has it been worth the journey?  On behalf of all the women in this room and those who will follow in our footsteps, I’m answering a resounding yes!”

The Tribute

A moving tribute to posthumous honourees was made to Rev. Addie Aylestock, Dr. Carrie Mae Best, Dr. Rosemary Brown, Rudolpha Hood, Andrea Lawrence, Kay Livingstone, Dr. Pearleen (Borden) Oliver, Eva Smith, and Aileen Williams.

Honourees Presented

The Presentation of the Honourees was the highlight for everyone at the Gala as recipients in their finest attire, were escorted to the stage area in pairs by a select group of established Black Canadian men including Dwight Drummond, Farley Flex, Michael Whittington, Owen Malcolm, Rod Brereton, and Warren Salmon.  A thousand flashes of light from cameras, phones, and tablets were faced by the honourees as friends and families hustled to capture this very special moments.

The 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women

The accomplished Black Canadian women featured in the book are: Zanana Akande, Alda Arthur, Hon. Dr. Jean Augustine, Rose-Ann Bailey, Patricia Bebia-Mawa, Dr. Akua Benjamin, Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard, Stacey Berry, Margarett Best, Yvette Blackburn, Kay Blair, Yvonne Z. Bobb, Nneka Bowen, Marsha Brown, Karen Burke, Joan Butterfield, Evangeline Cain-Grant, Nalda Callender, Audrey Campbell, Donna Cardoza, Bernice Carnegie, Linda V. Carter, Grace Carter-Henry Lyons, Dr. Mary Anne Chambers, Floydeen Charles-Fridal, Pauline Christian, Daphne Veronica Clarke, Jennifer Clarke, Denise Cole, Senator Dr. Anne Cools, Dr. Afua Cooper, Dr. Rita M. Cox, Maria DaSilva Pascoal, Ettie Dawkins, Aissatou Diajhate, Debbie Douglas, Arlene Duncan, Madeline Edwards, Esther Enyolu, Wilma Francis, Janice Gairey, June Girvan, Dr. Avis Glaze, Kamala-Jean Gopie, Jenny Gumbs, Penelope Hodge (Anderson), MPP Mitzie Hunter, Thando Hyman, Marci Ien, Angela James, Dr. Dorothy Jarvis, Avril Vanessa Jno-Baptiste-Jones, Eunadie Johnson, Lillie Johnson, Sandra Jones, Sharon Joseph, Paulette Kelly, Delores Lawrence, Dr. Enid Lee, Camille Logan, Dr. Amal Madibbo, Shernett Martin, Notisha Massaquoi, Gwyneth Matthew-Chapman, Karine Morin, Evelyn L. Myrie, Dr. Remi Ogundimu, Cecile Peterkin, Gemma Raeburn-Baynes, Hon. Madame Justice Micheline Rawlins, Cynthia Reyes, Dr. Miriam Rossi, Ettie Rutherford, Rosemary Sadlier, Itah Sadu, Alison Sealy-Smith, Djanet Sears, Terese Sears, Archbishop Dr. Deloris Seiveright, Paulette Senior, Denise Siele, Liberty Silver, Nancy Simms, Jennifer Singh, Frances-Anne Solomon, Nadine Ann Spencer, Valarie Steele, Carol Sutherland, Dr. Kimberley Tavares, Tracey-Acadia Thomas, Yara Vasconcelos, June Veecock, Nerene Virgin, Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, Sandra Whiting, Christine Williams, Dr. Dorothy W. Williams, Dr. Dorothy Wills, Carolynn Yvonne Wilson, and Stephnie Yarde-Payne.

Posthumous Honourees

The posthumous accomplished Black Canadian women featured in the book are: Rev. Addie Aylestock (1909-1998), Dr. Carrie Mae Best (1903-2001), Dr. Rosemary Brown (1930-2003), Rudolpha Hood (1913-2005), Andrea Lawrence (1964-2003), Kay Livingstone (1918-1975), Dr. Pearleen (Borden) Oliver (1917-2008), Eva Smith (1923-1993) and Aileen Williams (1924-2015).

Thank Yous

As the evening drew to a close, co-author Dauna Jones-Simmonds gave final remarks thanking the community for supporting such a historic national event.  She thanked everyone for the evening and identified the sponsors, the many volunteers and working resource group who made the evening possible. Outside the main hall, many guests lingered around the BLKMAIL.Design.Photography photo booth to take a complimentary photograph as a memento of this unforgettable evening.

The Book

100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women – 2016 EditionCopies of the book 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women – 2016 are available online at:

Book Proceeds

Partial proceeds from the 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women – 2016 Edition book sales will be donated to three different not-for-profit organizations to support programs for marginalized Black women and girls.

For more information about the book, visit: www.100abcwomen.ca

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